Latitude 2014: Redefining the music festival

Latitude, now in its ninth year, continues to push the boundaries and be a source of inspiration

“Not just a music festival” is how Latitude has been billed since its inception in 2006. After all, across its 17 stages, this year you’ll find not only a top drawer music line-up which includes Damon Albarn, and The Black Keys, but theatre, literature, film, and a comedy bill to rival the Edinburgh Fringe.

And on the Waterfront Stage, overlooking the lake, you’ll find the House Gospel Choir, highlights from the musical Once, and dance curated by Sadler’s Wells – Latitude’s collaborative partner of seven years – including shows by the English National Ballet and choreographer Wayne McGregor.

The best music acts to see at Latitude

Festival director Melvin Benn set up Latitude with the intention of redefining what a music festival could be and to create the kind of event that would appeal to Hay-on-Wye- and Edinburgh-goers. It’s hard to imagine that, when Benn initially programmed opera and ballet alongside rock and pop acts, he was met with derision by naysayers who thought the concept would never catch on.

Now, in its beautiful lakeside location in Henham Park, Suffolk, it has become perfectly normal to catch a renowned classical act – piano virtuoso Lang Lang’s performance drew a huge crowd in 2012 – and then cross over the bridge to see a rock act.

When Latitude started, it welcomed 20,000 festival-goers. Now it’s one of the most popular of the season with a capacity of 35,000.

Literature and poetry are still at the heart of the festival. It’s all in the layout of the site: as you walk over from the campsite, the first thing you come across is the Waterfront Stage, and, when you cross over the bridge, it’s not music stages that you first see, it’s the literature and poetry tents. Music may be secondary to the other art forms in the eyes of the festival’s director, but you’d never know from the bill.

Damon Albarn is playing an exclusive UK summer-festival performance here, and the five music stages give a platform to a wide mix of genres from R&B and pop (Kelis, Clean Bandit, Haim), to indie-rock (Editors, Two Door Cinema Club), folk (First Aid Kit), and synth-pop (East India Youth, Future Islands).

Now in its ninth year, Latitude remains queen of the arts festivals – and its winning formula has paved the way for other festivals to step beyond the traditional music-offerings. It’s a sure way of attracting culture-seeking families, and it helps to stave off criticisms of boring line-ups that have befallen more traditional music festivals who have relied on the same pool of rock and pop acts as headliners in recent years. With the sheer number of festivals taking place in the UK annually, festival-goers want more than just watching some bands in a field, as is shown by the continuing rise of boutique events.

That Latitude’s success set a template for other festivals to showcase many art forms is shown by the events that have sprung up since its inception. Two of the newest additions where arts are at the forefront are award-winning: Wilderness, which began in 2011, and Festival No 6, which followed in 2012.

Wilderness has a discerning music programme including Metronomy, London Grammar and Burt Bacharach, theatre, talks and debates and banquets prepared by famous chefs.

Each year it fuses music genres, taking a pop act and reinventing their live show with an orchestra – this year Jessie Ware will be backed by the Wilderness Orchestra.

Festival No 6 has fast built a reputation for a line-up mixing hotly tipped acts of the moment with legends. Pet Shop Boys, Beck and London Grammar headline this year, but it’s the variety of the arts and culture line-up that attracts so many, with comedy and literary talks including Gavin Turk and Charlie Higson, and its very own composer in residence, Joe Duddell.

Having variety in the line-up is the key to a festival’s success. It’s the future of festivals.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition